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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 November, 2003, 11:26 GMT
Thorne hails Aussie defence
All Blacks captain Reuben Thorne
New Zealand captain Reuben Thorne said Australia's awesome defence and ability to deny his side any ball was the key to victory in Saturday's Rugby World Cup semi-final.

The Wallabies neutralised the threat of All Blacks dangermen Joe Rokocoko and Doug Howlett as well as dominating their rivals up front on their way to a 22-10 success in Sydney.

"They got off to a great start and we just could not get the ball," said Thorne.

"I don't think the occasion got to us, the Australians just didn't let us play our game.

"We couldn't break through. We couldn't break out wide and we couldn't get through down the middle.

"We never lost our composure but we couldn't hold on to the ball long enough. It's pretty heartbreaking."

Our execution was poor and we did not deserve victory
Coach John Mitchell
Thorne apologised to the New Zealand public but added: "I can assure them they won't be nearly as disappointed as this team is. As tough as it is for them, it's twice as tough for us."

All Blacks fly-half Carlos Spencer agreed with his skipper and said Australia deserved their win.

"We were beaten by a better side on the night," he said.

"It's hard to play without the ball and the Australians seemed to have it all the time. We were punished tonight. Errors cost us and they capitalised."

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